Mar
15
2011
This Week’s PGA Tour Confidential: Which Young Player Will Be the Next Media Star?
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour Confidential

Hello from Palm Harbor, Florida, and Innisbrook, the site of the Transitions Championship! A huge thanks to Conor for his contributions the last several days, especially for holding down the fort yesterday (even golf writers needs a day off or two). If you haven’t read it already, check out the SI Golf Group’s weekly Sunday e-mail roundtable.

We touched on plenty of debatable topics, such as — Is this the beginning of more success for Watney? Is Kaymer still worthy of No. 1? What to expect from the struggling Phil Mickelson the rest of the season? Was Tiger’s Sunday 66 at Doral a sign he’s going to win soon or just one round? Did Doral deliver as a big-time event?

And, of course, the one I posed in the headline: Which young American has the best chance of becoming the next major media star?

Van Sickle: On another front, neither Watney nor Dustin Johnson are dynamic speakers or play with a lot of emotion. Johnson has that Freddie Couples nonchalance that makes him look like he’s so cool that he doesn’t even care (but of course he does). Watney went to the hat-over-the-face move after he yanked his drive into the water Saturday at 18, and a couple of nice fist pumps after putts Sunday. Kuchar and Mahan are equally nonplussed. Can any of these guys, notably D.J. or Watney, became a real media star for the public?

Herre: I think Johnson can, for the reason Gary suggests — he’s the next Fred Couples, ultra cool, calm and collected and sort of stylish in a 2011 way.

Van Sickle: And don’t forget, Jim, that D.J. has what the people want: the long ball. Who doesn’t like standing right behind a tee box when he blasts a driver? It’s awe inspiring.

Shipnuck: Johnson’s game and athleticism and looks can make him a star, but the Couples analogy is perfect; like Freddy, D.J. doesn’t really care about the hoopla and image-making. He’d rather chill on his boat.

Wei: And throw back a few Miller Lites.

Dusek: Neither Johnson nor Nick Watney is going to come across well enough on camera or give snappy-enough quotes in the media center. Both can play damn well and I’m not knocking them, but they simply don’t have that quality that demands attention.

Morfit: I could see Mahan playing to the media. In a press conference at Doral last year he started talking food and kind of went into a Food Network-announcer mode, cracking everyone up.

Wei: I agree with Cam. Mahan is sneaky good with the media. He’s sort of come into his own in the past year and become more confident in speaking situations. His caddie, John Wood, told me on Friday that he’s gotten more comfortable in his own skin, and he’s in a good place in his life (got married in January) and with his game.

…..

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Dustin Johnson already has that star quality. He’s cool, he hits it a mile and fans just instinctively pull for him. But beyond D.J. and Fowler, it’s hard to imagine casual fans getting excited about Watney, Kuchar, Mahan.

DJ doesn’t need to say anything and he’s a star. Remember, he’s the Silent Assassin! Ultimately, I agree with Mike and it’ll be hard for non-golf geeks to get riled up over anyone besides DJ and Rickie, who is sneaky funny, like at Steve Marino’s house during the Honda Classic. On the golf course Rickie is much more reserved when speaking with the media.

Who do you think has enough star-quality to grab the attention of casual golf fans or even the mainstream public? Feel free to chime in on any of the other discussion points mentioned above, too!

(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)